One of the biggest challenges in launching a mobile tour, ironically, can come from your own staff. Namely, live docents and front-desk staff. Change can be tough to embrace – so what are some ways to get your beloved Visitor Services enthusiastic about your? Here are some suggestions:
Win Converts by Involving Them Early
Or, “you get more bees with honey”. As soon as you begin forming the specifics of your museum’s mobile app get your visitor services staff involved. Ask for their input on what the app should include, what their ideas are for a narrator, content, features, etc. To be clear, do not give them the false impression that all of their suggestions will be implemented, but getting them involved makes them feel like a part of something, rather than an antagonist against something.
This not only empowers your staff, it also makes your app better – after all, they are the ones who spend the most time dealing with visitors. They are the ones who hear “Where are the restrooms?” “Where is that famous painting I came to see?” 5000 times per day from your visitors – so they can help you think about things from the visitors’ perspective. Other departments might not be thinking about such practical, street-level matters.
We have even had some clients who used their docents and staff as the acting and voiceover talents in their app. Granted, they were very talented – but the deep level of involvement got all the staff psyched about the app when it launched.
Once your app is in a rough draft phase it’s a good idea to have people test it – not just by sitting at a desk and surfing their phone, but in its real-life environment. Your visitor services staff is the perfect beta test audience – they typically vary in age, background, tech-savvyiness and interests. Create a feedback form so everyone who gives the app a test-drive has a formal way to record their feedback and suggestions.
Every good museum app launches with an event! Make sure to invite all of the staff members who helped along the way. This is not only a great way to thank them for their help, it also gets them excited about the launch.
Once the tour is available to the public you may want to set some sort of incentive program up – this can be tied to the success of the app itself or to social media to promote the app. For example, if an app reaches 10,000 views in its first month or if you get 500 Tweet/Facebook mentions. Enlisting the help of your Visitor Services staff to help spread the word is another great way to get them involved on a deeper level. And remember – the more involved they have been up to this point the more excited they will be to help promote the app.
If you’ve launched an app and have some insight to share, we’d love to hear from you. What’s your experience – have you launched an app? What was your experience with your staff? If you haven’t launched an app, is it a concern?